Megan McArdle discusses the necessity, if you wish to socialize in Manhattan, of avoiding political discussion, if you have politics like hers or mine. But sometimes avoiding politics just isn’t enough. I once started talking, at a dinner party at my sister’s, about Japanese painting with a guy I’d never seen before. One interesting thing about traditional Japanese art, I said, is that vanishing-point perspective does not appear. My interlocutor maintained that this was because the artists had no interest in perspective; they were trying to do something else, although he never specified quite what. I pointed out that perspective was a scientific discovery, made by the Italians in the 15th century, and that if the Japanese had known of it they certainly would have used it, at least sometimes. So how does he explain the fact that it never appears until the 19th century?
Sure, I was egging him on a little on the Western hegemony front. But only a little, and I was completely unprepared for what came next. He stood up, announced to the room that he couldn’t take any more of this, gathered up his girlfriend, and stormed out. My sister, who brooks no nonsense, banished him for life.
(Update: Stumbling Tongue says anyone who thinks Manhattan is bad ought to try Italy.)